cover image There Hangs the Knife

There Hangs the Knife

Marcia Muller. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-312-01833-7

Joanna Stark, co-owner of an art security firm in San Francisco, comes to London to continue her vendetta against art thief Tony Parducci, the father of her son who, two decades before, deserted her when she became pregnant. A number of Brueghels, all part of a series, have been stolen, and Joanna suspects Parducci. So she commissions a fake sixth painting in the series and plans to use it as bait. She seeks help from two friends from her past, one now an art dealer and the other, Matt Wickins, a not-very-successful fagin who controls art thieves. Unfortunately the plan goes awry, with the painting disappearing before schedule. The probable thief is found dead in Wickins's flat, but Joanna still feels Parducci is involved. She trails Wickins to Cornwall, where she has a confrontation with Parducci. The theme of betrayalby Joanna and of Joannapermeates this book and the first entry in this series (Cavalier in White). Despite her wealth, Joanna is a very unhappy woman. Muller may not be able to get as much mileage out of this detective as she has out of her deservedly successful Sharon McCone. (June)